Local Public Radio Spending: Most News Budgets Under $250K

Our survey of U.S. public radio stations in 2010 found that 90% had news budgets under $1-million, and 70% spent less than $250-thousand on news.

The sample of 288 stations spent between $77-million and $168-million on public radio news programming.

As the chart shows, the single largest news budget bracket was $50K-$250K (37% of stations).

Distribution of NPR Stations by News Budgets
Two Thirds of Local Public Radio Stations Spend Below $250K on News Annually

Survey Question: Approximately, what is the dollar range of your total budget for local news and public affairs in FY 2010?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Less than $50,000 33.3% 96
$50,000-$249,999 37.2% 107
$250,000-$499,999 10.1% 29
$500,000-$749,999 7.3% 21
$750,000-$999,999 3.1% 9
$1m-$2.49m 5.2% 15
$2.5m-$4.99m 3.1% 9
$5m-$7.49m 0.7% 2
answered question 288
skipped question 13

Typically the lion’s share of spending in a newsroom is for personnel.

For illustration purposes, we multiplied the number of stations per bracket by the low and high end of the dollar ranges so we could see what the range of actual spending was for this sample. It showed actual spending between $77-million and $168-million.

Actual dollar range spent on local npr news
Actual FY 2010 spending on local public radio news was between $77 and $168 million

This chart shows how the overall spending on news is not carried out by the many stations at the lower dollar amounts. Rather, the lion’s share of news spending is generated by fewer stations in the larger brackets.

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Published by

Michael V. Marcotte

Hi, I'm the (first-ever) Professor of Practice in Journalism at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. I teach multimedia journalism and launched are innovation/collaboration lab: New Mexico News Port. Previously, I was the 2012-2013 Reynolds Chair in Ethics of Entrepreneurial and Innovative Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno... and, before that, a 2011 Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. I'm also very active as a consultant in public media news, having spent over 20 years as a news director. My website is http://www.mikemarcotte.com or on Twitter: http://twitter.com/michvinmar

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